Tag: FastForward

Awards

Maryland Startups Sweep Finals at National Competition

Maryland Startups Sweep Finals at National Competition

 
A national field of about five dozen shrunk to 16 and then to four, and by that point only Maryland teams remained. It may sound like a hometown fan’s March Madness basketball bracket, but that’s the outcome at the Association of University Technology Manager’s (AUTM) national business plan competition.

AUTM officials selected the finalists as part of a blind panel process, and, on March 14, LifeSprout claimed the top prize of $10,000 at the Pitch and Play Venture Challenge, edging out fellow Johns Hopkins Technology Ventures (JHTV) startups Pathovax and Multisensor Diagnostics and University of Maryland startup Grip Boost.

LifeSprout - AUTM Award Winner
LifeSprout’s Director of Operations Kevin Colbert (left) and CEO Sashank Reddy (right) accept the $10,000 prize from AUTM.

“Winning the AUTM competition is terrific. It is a validation of our team’s efforts to build something of great value for patients, partners, and investors,” LifeSprout CEO Sashank Reddy says.

“It is also a validation of the great work of JHTV, TEDCO and the Abell Foundation in supporting local startups. It is no accident that three of the final four teams in this national business plan competition were from JHTV and all four had TEDCO support.”

LifeSprout is developing a suite of minimally invasive products that can be used to restore missing soft tissues, particularly for those who lost soft tissue due to cancer surgery or as a result of trauma. The award money will allow the company to scale up the manufacturing of its composites as it looks toward clinical trials.

At the event held in Hollywood, Florida, each team made a 10-minute presentation and then fielded questions from a panel of five seasoned venture capitalists from across the country.

“The VC panel has been asking me how we help our startups,” says JHTV’s Technology Transfer Director Hassan Naqvi, who attended the event. “They are very impressed with the quality of the business plans going into the session.”

“This success is a testament to the work and drive of the startup companies in the competition as well as proof positive of Christy Wyskiel’s vision and Brian Stansky’s translation of that vision into FastForward,” Naqvi continues, referring to the head of JHTV and its director of FastForward, respectively.

Sonavex, a JHTV startup currently operating out of FastForward Homewood, won the competition in 2015, and the success of one could have played a role in what happened this year.

“When someone sees someone else be successful, there’s an ‘If they can do it, I can do it,’” Stansky tells The Daily Record. “You’re thickening the soup in which things can come together and grow.”

Here’s an overview of each of the finalists:
 

  • Multisensor Diagnostics: Based in Baltimore’s Hampden neighborhood, Multisensor Diagnostic is developing a portable handheld device designed to quickly and easily gather an individual’s key vital signs. CEO: Sathya Elumalai

 

  • Pathovax: A startup leasing shared lab space at the FastForward 1812 innovation hub, Pathovax is developing a universal HPV vaccine. The pilot pipeline vaccine promises to provide protection against all 15 oncogenic HPV types and many others that cause warts. Earlier this year, Pathovax won the 43North startup competition and $500,000. Co-founders: Weijie Poh, Joshua Wang

 

  • Grip Boost: A part of UM Ventures, Grip Boost has developed chemically modified grip solution for football gloves and other sport grips that is legal and easy to use. It currently sells grip products for football, baseball, softball and golf.

 

Click to watch a powerful video about LifeSprout’s technology.

 

News

FastForward 1812 Providing Startups Much Needed Space, Resources

FastForward 1812 Providing Startups Much Needed Space, Resources

Innovative solutions to wound care, technologies to relieve a strained health care system, a pill that could reverse type 2 diabetes. The path to developing and bringing these and other discoveries and innovations to market runs through the FastForward 1812 innovation hub.

Johns Hopkins Technology Ventures opened the 23,000-square-foot flagship space shortly after New Year’s Day. The first tenants began occupying office and co-working spaces the third week of January, and lab tenants will move in March 1. Startups have leased much of the available space already, and what remains has been strategically left empty to accommodate growth among the 18 startup tenants and the arrival of new startups.

FastForward 1812 Innovation Hub
Co-working space

“There’s high-demand in Baltimore, especially around Johns Hopkins, for affordable space and access to lab space and equipment,” says FastForward Director Brian Stansky, noting that JHTV operates two other FastForward innovation hubs in Baltimore.

“We designed FastForward 1812 with startups in mind. We want to ensure the talented innovators and entrepreneurs within Johns Hopkins and around the city have everything they need to grow their startups and bring positive change to the world.”

FastForward 1812 occupies two floors of the 1812 Ashland building that sits on the Johns Hopkins medical campus in the burgeoning Eager Park neighborhood. The top floor features an open-concept layout with offices, meeting rooms, communal workspaces and kitchen.

Downstairs, the innovation hub boasts 15,000-square-feet of lab space with private BSL2 wet labs as well as BSL2 wet lab benches in a shared space; cell culture, microscopy and cold storage rooms; shared scientific instruments and a full-time lab manager.

Cold room

Having a complete lab and accessible equipment is essential for startups in the biomedical space. Laura Dickinson, director of research and development at Gemstone Biotherapeutics, says the further development of its wound healing technology requires biosafety cabinets, incubators, a chemical fume hood and other pricey pieces of lab equipment.

“[FastForward] offers startups the opportunity to focus on what they need to do as opposed to making their own lab space,” says Dickinson, noting they will move from FastForward East to FastForward 1812. “It would be extremely cost prohibitive as a startup company to get a lab like one that FastForward provides. It has all the equipment we need to progress our research forward.”

Aside from the dedicated wet lab, Dickinson says Gemstone benefits from FastForward’s core resources, support and connections. This includes facilitating meetings with the FDA and providing guidance through its startup journey.

FastForward 1812 innovation hub
Stairwell connecting office and lab space

Brian Halak, CEO of WindMIL Therapeutics, a startup developing cell therapies for oncology indications, echoed Dickinson’s sentiments. WindMil began leasing office and lab space from FastForward East in May 2016 because of its turnkey nature.

“FastForward allowed us to get up and running quickly,” Halak says. “It has the infrastructure that allows a brand new company like ours to work on the things that will generate value without worrying about vital, but less directly value-generating activities like finding office space, ordering lab equipment and the like.”

When presented with an opportunity to move across Ashland Avenue to FastForward 1812, Halak jumped at the chance, citing the new innovation hub’s layout.

Shared Lab - FastForward 1812
Shared laboratory

“The new space is more connected. With the offices on the first floor and the labs on the lower level, it’s just one open staircase that divides the two,” Halak says. “FastForward 1812 is a better, more integrated, thoughtfully-designed version of the benefits we had at FastForward East.”

The space, services and funding opportunities that FastForward provides aim not only to accelerate the development of startups but also to keep them in the city. Since 2012, startups based on Johns Hopkins technology have raised more than $1.1 billion in funding. However, 85 percent of that funding went to build those startups in other states. FastForward aims to change that story, and in so doing, play a role in revitalizing Baltimore’s economy.

“The FastForward ecosystem we have cultivated over the past four years has helped bring life-changing innovations to market,” Stansky says. “FastForward 1812 is a continuation of our efforts to help startups become successful businesses and establish roots in Baltimore.”

Want to learn more about FastForward? Click here!

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